When our daughter was in elementary school, one of the favorite things we did was a mother/daughter book club. The moms chose several books we wanted our children to read (Although honestly, we wanted to read them, too!). Then we came together once a week to discuss the book over refreshments and did a craft or activity related to the book. The club wasn’t that difficult to plan and we all benefitted from it.
Your ministry could host book clubs, too. It’s a great way to encourage young Bible students, parents and volunteers to read books you believe are important for them to read. It is also a great way to build more meaningful relationships as people discuss the books and how they relate to their lives.
Here are some possible types of book clubs you could host.
- Parent/Child. These are particularly great for stay-at-home parents, although they could be done in the early evening or on weekends so working parents can participate, too.
- Children or teen book clubs. These can be geared towards a certain age and/or gender. The books chosen can reflect an issue particular to them, as well as standard books or books of the Bible.
- Parent book clubs. These are especially great for parents who haven’t had the time to bond with other parents in your church or ministry. You can even read various parenting books or books about parents to get some added benefits from the time together.
- Volunteer book clubs. Once again, you can read books encouraging volunteers to enhance your ministry or fun books for team bonding.
- Theme book clubs. These read books around a certain theme and tend to have a shorter life span, but not always. You could host one on special needs and read inspirational stories, or host book clubs on divorce, grief, kings and queens (in the Bible) or any other theme you can think of for people interested in exploring a specific topic.
- Story hours. Technically not a book club, because they are generally for non or early readers, these feature picture books and/or story telling. It’s a great way to start teaching some basic classroom skills, like listening quietly while the teacher is talking. These clubs can also provide a way for young parents to meet each other.
Once you have decided what type of book club to host, you will need to choose the books your club will read. For children, you will have to do most of the planning. With teens and adults, you may only want to choose the first book and then let the members help choose future books.
There are also some general things about book clubs that will help them be more successful.
- Choose books that are engaging – even if you have a specific goal in mind. Book clubs are supposed to be fun. No one wants to read a dry textbook. Choose books that are easy to read and are either fun, have a lot to consider in them or share a lot of helpful information people can use.
- Host them in a home environment whenever possible. Some churches have home like environments you can use, but an actual home may be your best option. Book clubs are meant to be relaxed and it’s hard to do that when you are sitting in a classroom or formal setting.
- Provide food. Food breaks down barriers, because it gives people something to do with their hands and encourages a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be fancy, although if it goes with the book in some way, you may score bonus points!
- Don’t just talk, but do. Activities add fun, excitement and opportunities for fellowshipping. They’re practically a must for book clubs with children and even teens, but consider having an activity for adults as well.
Book clubs take extra time and effort, but they can provide a way to teach members in subtle ways and encourage relationship building. It may be just what your ministry needs.